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A PARAPHRASE OF NATHAN'S PARABLE TO DAVID, AFTER THE MURDER OF URIAH, AND HIS
MARRIAGE WITH BATHSHEBĄ.
BY THE HONOURABLE ANNE, COUNTESS QF
OW spent the fallen king in-amorous cares
In vain the altar waits his flow returns,
Where unattended incense faintly burns;
In vain the whispering PRIESTS their fears express,
And of the change a thousand causes guess.
Heedless of all their censures he retires,
And in his palace feeds his fecret fires;
Impatient, 'till from RABBAH tidings tell,
That near those walls the poor URIAH fell;
Led to the onset by a chosen few,
Who, at the treacherous signal, foon withdrew;
Nor to his rescue e'er return'd again,
'Till by fierce Ammon's sword they saw the victim
fain. 'Tis pass’d, 'tis done! the holy marriage knot, Too strong to be 'unty'd, at last is cut. And now to BATHSHEBA the king declares, That with his heart, the kingdom too is her's; That ISRAEL's throne and longing monarch's arms -Are to be fill'd but with her widow'd charms;
Nor must the days of formal tears succeed,
To cross the living, and abuse the dead.
This the denies; and signs of grief are worn,
But mourns no more th: may her face adorn;
Give to those eyes, which love and empire fir’d,
A melting softness, more to be defir'd;
Till the fix'd time, tho' hard to be endur'd,
Was pass'd, and a fad consort's name procur'd:
When, with a pomp that suits a prince's thought,
By passion sway'd, and glorious woman taught,
A QUEen she's made, than MICHAL seated higher,
Whilst light unusual airs prophane the hallow'd lyre.
Where art thou, NATHAN? where's that spirit now,
Giv'n to brave vice, tho' on a prince's brow?
In what low cave, or on what desart coast,
Now virtue wants it, is thy presence lost?
And lo! he comes; the reverend bard appears,
Defil'd with duft his awful silver hairs,
And his rough garment wet with falling tears.
The KING this mark'd, and conscious would have fled
The healing balm that for his wounds was shed;
But the more wary priest with serpent art,
Join'd to the dove-like temper of his heart,
Retards the prince just ready to depart.
“ Hear me, the cause between two neighbours hear
Thou, who for justice dost the sceptre bear:
Help the oppress'd, nor let me weep alone
For him, who calls for succour from the throne.
Good princes for protection are ador’d,
And greater by the shield, than by the sword.”
This clears the doubt, and now no more he fears The cause his own, and therefore stays and hears : When thus the prophet;-in a flowery plain A KING-LIKE man does in full plenty reign; Cafts round his eyes, in vain, to reach the bound, Which JORDAN's flood sets to his fertile ground: Counting his Aocks, whilst LEBANON contains A herd as large, kept by his numerous swains, That fill with bellowings the morning air, And to the shade at scorching noon repair. Near to this wood a lowly cottage stands, Built by the humble owner's painful hands; Fenc'd by a stubble-roof from rain and heat, Secur’d without, without all plaip and neat. A field of small extent surrounds the place, In which one fingle ewe did sport and graze : This his whole stock, till in full time there came To bless his utmost hopes, a snowy LAMB; Which, lest the season yet too cold might prove, And northern blafts annoy it from the grove, Or tow'ring fowl on the weak prey might seize, (For with his store his fears must too increase) He brings it home, and lays it by his fide, At once his wealth, his pleasure, and his pride; Still bars the door, by labour call'd away, And, when returning at the close of day, With one small mess himself and that sustains, And half his dish it shares, and half his gains. -When to the great man's table now there comes A LORD as great, follow'd by hungry grooms :
For these must be provided sundry meats,
The best for some, for others coarser cates !
One fervant diligent above the rest,
To help his mafter to contrive the feast,
Extols the LAMB, 'twas nourish'd with such care,
So fed, fo lodg’d, it must be princely fare ;
“ And having this, my lord, his own may spare.”
In haste he sends, led by no law but will,
Not to intreat, or purchase, but to kill,
The messenger arrives; the harmless spoil
Unus'd to fly, runs bleating to the toil:
Whilft for the innocent the owner fear’d,
And, sure, would move, could poverty be heard !
“Oh spare, he cries, the product of my cares !
My stock's increase !, the blessings on my pray’rs !
My growing hope, and treasure of my life!!--
More was he speaking, when the murdering knife
Shew'd him his suit, tho' juft, must be deny’d, -
And the white feece in its own scarlet dy'd;
While the poor helpless wretch stands weeping by,
And lifts his hands for justice to the sky.'-
66 Which he shall find ! th’incensed KING replies,
When for the foul offence th' oppressor dies.
O NATHAN! by the HOLY NAME I swear,
Our land such wrongs unpunish'd shall not bear,
If, with the fault, th' offender thou declare.”
Then, says the prophet, closing with the time,
" THOU ART THE MAN, and thine th’ill-natur'd
Nor think against thy place or state I err, [crime.
A power above thee does this charge prefer :
Urg'd by whose fpirit, hither am I brought,
T'expoftulate his goodness, and thy fault;
To lead thee back to those forgotten years,
In labour spent and lowly rustic cares,
When in the wilderness thy flocks were few,
Thou didft the shepherd's simple art pursue,
Thro' crufting frosts, and penetrating dew:
Till wondering Jesse saw fix brothers pass’d,
And thou, elected, thou the least, and last,
A fceptre to thy rural hand convey'd,
And in thy bosom royal beauties laid :
A lovely princess made thy prize that day,
When on the fhaken ground the GIANT lay,
Stupid in death, beyond the reach of cries,
That bore thy shouted praise to listening skies,
And drove the Aying foe as swift away
As winds of old, locufts to EGYPT's fea.
Thy heart with love, thy temples with renown,
Th'all-giving hand of heaven did largely crown,
Whilft yet thy cheek was spread with youthful
What more could craving man of God implore,
Or what for favour'd man could God do more?
Yet could not these, nor ISRAEL's throne suffice
Intemperate withes, drawn thro' wandering eyes.
One beauty, not thy own, and seen by chance,
Defiles thy Grace with one alluring glance ;
Chaces the spirit fed by sacred art,
And blots the title AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART!